I get the senior citizen discount at Goodwill, though.

There I was, mustering energy to make sloppy joe—thing, with my Kirkland organic ground beef, fresh bell pepper and onion, and basic seasonings, and I got to thinking about the Homefront. Which is a thing I do pretty often. This would be food you could throw together and eat later or whatever, but you'd probably have to grind the meat first, and add soy flour, or use ham, or who knows? You got what they had to sell you, unless you grew it yourself. I had no energy for the cole slaw I was going to make, so the boys are having carrots tossed their way, along with blackberries and unsweetened applesauce. Cole slaw will be good with something else tomorrow. Choices. Anyway.


As it lurched toward time to drain the fat and liquid before adding the tomato sauce and seasonings, I remember having read women would save that liquid to use for soup broth. Of course, if there was fat to skim, that was saved for the butcher, who paid for fat by the pound so the government could use it for explosives. But they’d save the liquid, and they’d deglaze their pans to take advantage of cooked goodness, and make room in their tiny freezers so it could be used later. I am not sure what they saved it in. Maybe those weird old ice trays I never understood.

Did you know that rationing here in the U.S. actually got more strict for awhile when the war was over? That’s because even more food had to be sent overseas to feed starving citizens whose previously depended-upon fields and livestock were destroyed or reduced severely over the past six years.

I think about all they did to plan and make do and substitute, just as things had begun to turn around after the Depression, and the government’s ongoing push to get people to eat carefully from all the food groups, and then I think about the extra money they had after the war suddenly being spent on Wonder Bread and Swanson TV Dinners and the new McDonald's Hamburger Restaurants. And they forgot, or wished not to remember, how hard things were. My neighbors remember the war, but they refuse to recycle because they don't want to rinse out cans and bottles. They'd rather spend their (our) energy blowing individual leaves from their yard nine months of the year. It’s hard not to be sort of depressed by that.


The liquid I drained isn’t really very fatty, and it smells good, beef cooked with onions and peppers, so I added it to a three cup plastic freezer container to use for something later on. It suddenly seemed silly not to.


30 in 31: day sixteen: from the Bussard Collector

I take screenshots of everything. I could make subfolders and subfolders, but right now they're all loose in the Bussard Collector on the desktop. Here are some ads I collected this year from several different issues of  Good Housekeeping and a few from LIFE magazine touching on one of my most cherished topics: The American Homefront in World War II.

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Sun Valley Serenade: A Jitterbug Refugee on the Homefront

Okay, Sonje Henie was hardly a jitterbug. But she did play a war refugee in this movie, which is mainly worth watching for the winter scenery and great Glenn Miller performances, with a cool segment from the Nicholas Brothers folded into the Academy Award-nominated song, "Chattanooga Choo Choo." First there's a long instrumental section, then vocals by Tex Beneke and the Modernaires, featuring Paula Kelly. And at five minutes, it switches to Dorothy Dandridge singing while the Nicholas Brothers sing and dance alongside her, then take off and do their thing.

I just love this particular performance of "In the Mood," myself. It's just so...and so how did their tiresome children turn out the way they did?

Sun Valley Serenade was released just a few weeks before Pearl Harbor happened, so the young men are still in dinner jackets instead of uniforms. Milton Berle shows off his new nose, Sonja skates, it's all lovely fluff to look at and admire. Here's a review from Photoplay.


Frankie Sinatra: Homefront Dreamboat

He was the skinny boy with the big voice who made the girls melt while their boyfriends fought overseas. And he was born 98 years ago today in Hoboken, New Jersey. Here are the first mentions of him in Photoplay in the final quarter of 1943.

First, a detractor in the letters to the editor column. Kind of a weak prophylactic attack, because one month later, he was all over the pages of that magazine.
Shortly on the heels of this statement, a full measure of appreciation by a nearly gushing Louella Parsons. Sorry, M.G.



And suddenly, he was all over Hollywood, leaving only long enough to go get the Nancys for a long-term stay.


For the time being, anyway, Bing remained unconcerned.



Cheese food on the Homefront

Velveeta has an undeserved rap. It is what it is, but it isn't what a lot of people think it is. It's a product made mostly of cheese, but has nothing in it that isn't perfectly okay to eat. It's mainly just got emulsifiers to stabilize it and keep it from separating when it melts, as regular cheese will often do. Actually, it used to be better; more flavorful and less salty, but I digress. For making inexpensive melty sauce dishes, it had its place on the Homefront, for sure, and if you ever eat a cheeseburger from a fast food place or buy American cheese, you have no cause to be snobbish about Velveeta. 

This is from a 1944 issue of Cine-Mundial (the Spanish-language Moving Picture World,) and I was very proud that I had to look up only a handful of the terms after interpeting the recipe. I never studied Spanish, but it has sort of rubbed off on me over the years. At least, to read simple things.

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Melt 1/2 lb. Velveeta in double boiler. Mix with 3/4 cup milk,
remove from heat and allow to cool. Add 3 egg yolks,
1 3/4 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon
mustard powder. Incorporate 3 egg whites beaten until meringue (stiff.)

Pour the mixture into 6 well-greased pudding molds. Place in
a tray with hot water for 30 minutes hornéense slow fire.
Take the souffles from the molds and serve with tomato sauce.

It seems hornéense has to do with baking, so I guess they just mean
"in a slow oven," like 300º.

Oh! With Velveeta also is made a rich and smooth cheese sauce
to serve with vegetables and meats!


Le da un rico sabor a sus comidas means "gives a rich flavor to your meals."


Notes on this new page and project

First of all, I'll work more on this page than my main "blog" through the winter. But there'll be updates there from time to time, about concerts or operas I attended, bits of Christmas or food or snow. This weekend, the Met is live-streaming Falstaff. I'll have something to say about that. And I did promise two people I'd share Thanksgiving dinner photos...

The main focus this winter will be the WW2 American Homefront, but with serendipity included, such as the introduction of a new film or singing star, intriguing advertising, etc. Most of the material will come from 1940-1943 Photoplay and will focus on the Hollywood Homefront, but beginning in 1944, that publication started a renewable copyright, so there's little Photoplay material online from that point forward.

1944-1945 material comes mainly from the following magazines:

Popular Mechanics
Radio Mirror
Good Housekeeping
The Rotarian
Popular Science

and will focus more on everyday life, home economy, and emerging technology. I have a few industry yearbooks for more celebrity material. However, I'm not presenting it strictly chronologically. And I'm not in a particular hurry; I fuss over these things and at the same time, try not to spend too much of my day looking at a screen, but upcoming topics will include the butter shortage, Frankie Sinatra, and the emergence/changing perceptions of the "negro" in Hollywood's consciousness. That said, you can't be taking any of this too seriously. I'm no scholar, just a wandering dilettante. 

The page is of a wide single-column format to make the most of some of the images.

Hey, how about that temporary prune shortage? Prunes were an important component in desserts because they helped with sugar rationing. For most cake recipes, you'd have to save up a couple eggs, unless you had chickens. But baked and steamed puddings could be made without them, or with only one.

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Hollywood and the Homefront

I think my first big project here will be about the Homefront, as Hollywood related to or pretended to relate to it. Advertising and editorials in Photoplay and LIFE, a few stories of what was going on, reactions to who fought, who boosted morale, and who objected, here in the United States.

Sometimes what people knew just at the moment could later be seen in a different light. For example, Lew Ayres is a topic all on his own. He was a serious conscientious objector, and people said, "But wait, he played that great war hero in that movie!" They were angry that he would not fight. Well, the movie was All Quiet on the Western Front. Have you seen it or read the book? It affected him deeply—how could it not?—and he refused to take up arms. But he did his bit nonetheless, and all the bits mattered. But more on that later.

Something I noticed in the 1940 issues of Photoplay is that they were already hinting toward economy and making the most of what you have, talking to girls and women about sewing patterns and interchangeable wardrobe pieces. How to make things last. A few months later, still before America entered the war, there were several articles on how the stars cooked with preserved food. And then there was a whole campaign about making America Strong! by having everyone eat lots of eggs, drink lots of milk. Rations came later; sugar was one of the first commodities to be limited.

Finally, the motion picture industry had a careful position to maintain. Always there were people crying for more lightheartedness, and other people saying they had a duty to seriousness and propaganda. Eleanor Roosevelt had some very intelligent things to say about it all. The studios themselves had stars they wished to protect, and a position to maintain; to be thought of in a positive light whenever the war ended.

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But in between posts on this subject, I'm likely to add random or serendipitous items, as well, so I'll make sure the titles reflect the content.